AJ McCarron, Katherine Webb and a Teachable Moment for Your Kids

Certainly many of you have heard the chatter about ESPN Announcer Brent Musburger’s comments about the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron during the BCS National Championship game January 7.

ESPN and Musburger have apologized for his vivid commentary about Katherine Webb’s physical beauty when the camera flashed to her in the stands.

Webb is Miss Alabama and few would argue that from society’s standards of physical beauty, the woman is strikingly gorgeous.

I was watching the game live with my husband and our sons, ages 14 and 8.

Instead of vilifying Musburger (who I imagine in hindsight would have re-thought his words before they came out of his mouth), I want to thank him for serving up a FABULOUS teachable moment with my sons, particularly my 14-year-old.

Immediately, I pointed out to my son what he easily could have missed (not only because he is a 14-year-old living in a sexually charged society, but also because he lacks some of the life experience and discernment that simply come as we age).

What I calmly asked my son was this, “Do you see how quickly he (Musburger) commented on her physical beauty? I wonder what he would have said if she had been average looking by the world’s standards. What do you think?”

I let that sink in for awhile.

The cameras would have gone to her regardless of what she looked like, because that’s what camera operators are instructed to do at big televised games like this. They find in the stands the family members, girlfriends, and spouses of key players.

And then they make a few comments about them.

In many regards, Musburger was simply doing his job, albeit he had a slight momentary lapse of judgment in the comments he chose.

My son began to see where I was going with this.

Our sexually-saturated society has put high stakes on outward physical beauty.  Entire industries are built around looking beautiful.

Is it no wonder that our young people lose sight of more vital qualities like character, integrity and compassion when wondering if they “measure up” or if other people they encounter “measure up”?

I’m not saying that Katherine Webb isn’t all those things.

From the few interviews I’ve seen, she seems like a well-spoken and kind person.  And certainly it’s not her fault that Musburger made comments about her physical appearance.

But what a wonderful teachable moment to be able to say to my son, “When you choose who to be in relationship with, pay closer attention to that person’s character than you do to their outward appearance.”

Am I saying physical attraction has no place?

Of course not.

We all intuitively know what we find physically attractive.  Often, physical attributes are indeed the first attributes we encounter in a person.

But those pale in comparison to internal attributes, which are more consequential to the health and longevity of a relationship, whether we are talking about friendships, dating situations or marriages.

Don’t assume your pre-teens and teens get this.

Don’t assume they see clearly what you and I in our wisdom have grown to understand.

Don’t assume they, without some of your insight and guidance, can easily discern what it means to appreciate physical beauty and not at the same time put it at an ungodly level.

Don’t assume they are on auto-pilot internalizing the values you most want them to have.

Look for teachable moments often.

In our society, you won’t have to look far.   Commercials. Advertisments. Entertainment. Real-life scenarios. Commentary from a sports announcer.

All offer opportunities — not for over-the-top lengthy lectures, but for authentic impactful dialogue about real issues that affect our kids.

Katherine Webb is strikingly gorgeous from a physical standpoint. My son easily grasped that (he is a 14-year-old boy, after all).

But I think because in that moment I intentionally engaged him in a brief conversation about internal character, I have broadened his perspective.

It’s one teachable moment.  One deposit.

Are you making these kind of deposits in your kids? Each deposit adds up to a lot.

Your kids — and my kids — are worth it.

Copyright 2013, Jule Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage blog.

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4 thoughts on “AJ McCarron, Katherine Webb and a Teachable Moment for Your Kids

  1. Richard says:

    She is from my town. I know her Dad and attend church with her uncle. She’s a good girl. Grounded. Came to faith at a young age. Fortunately – from what I know, she does have the inside qualities to match her external beauty.

    Pray that in this attention and being in LA trying to launch a modeling career, that she will stay deeply grounded in her faith. As a father to 2 girls, I’d be very nervous.

    That said, it is telling that in 2 days, she has gone from 2,000 twitter followers to more than 200,000. What does that say? Why have 200,000 (betting 90% of those are men) people suddenly started following her?

    Of all of this, that is perhaps the most troubling aspect. I’m betting that most have googled her and scrolled through those images and I’m betting those searches have led to a wandering mind. This is dangerous stuff.

  2. Greg says:

    I’m glad you stepped in and used that opportunity to get your son to think about what Musburger (and society) not only believe, but virtually dictate to us about “beauty.” There are just so many ramifications and issues that this highlights.

    I recently watched a sobering documentary called “America the Beautiful” that follows a 12-year-old girl’s “dream” of becoming a fashion model (mentioned by the first commenter in J’s “Flat Chests, Body Issues, and Feeling Sexy” post last October) that is just sickening in parts about how utterly crass and depraved some men are toward women in all of this. It’s very disturbing and heartbreaking to say the least, as it exposes many mindsets and raw superficiality behind the scenes.

    If you want to see first-hand examples of the damage that this causes, and be encouraged by those who are standing up to the media’s superficial crud, take a look at operationbeautiful.com.

  3. Kevin says:

    Julie — great post! I’m going to share it with Cetelia. As a man with a 10 year-old son, I need to ensure I’m presenting a balanced diet to Max about outward and inner beauty.

  4. Tattie Harris says:

    Like you I was impressed with Katherine Webb’s response to the “hoopla”. But, now I see that she is grounded on the sand and not the rock. The recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit photos show her in very sexually suggestive poses, so I would say that Katherine Webb is full of inconsistencies. I am disturbed that her claim to fame came because of one man’s comments about her undeniable beauty and the other men who quickly jumped on the bandwagon. She is using sex appeal to get to the top. So, she needs to stop spouting off about her character and morals. She was quick with comments that seemed to put her above reality stars (Kardashians) who have no obvious talent and only good looks. Now, she is one of them. It saddens me that girls are misrepresented (airbrushing and modern technology can fix the flaws!) and that is often what boys are expecting in a female. Unrealistic expectations for all!! I applaud you for discussing these issues with your sons because these attitudes often originate in the home.

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